What It Takes To Snag That Top Google Spot
You’ve built a great website – but it doesn’t occupy the top Google spot. As a result, it isn’t bringing in new leads for your business… YET! To get those leads, people need to be able to find your website when they search Google for your services.
In this article, I’m going to tell you how to get your website to climb to that coveted top Google spot.
Why Compete For The Top Google Spot?
With so many other businesses fighting for that top Google spot, why should you join the fray?
The answer is: the top website gets the lion’s share of visitors.
New findings from online ad network Chitika confirm it’s anything but lonely at the top. According to the study, the top listing in Google’s organic search results receives 33 percent of the traffic, compared to 18 percent for the second position, and the traffic only degrades from there.SearchEngineWatch.com
If getting twice the online traffic of your closest competitor sounds like good thing for your business, read on!
What IS Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Anyway?
You’ve heard of SEO by now, and you probably have a vague sense that it’s helpful when it comes to getting your website to rank higher in Google.
Simply put, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques web designers use to make your website more “attractive” to search engines for specific search phrases.
By performing these optimizations, web designers provide search engines (like Google) hints about what types of searches relate to your website.
A thoroughly optimized website gets crawled and ranked favourably by Google. On the other hand, a website with poor SEO may not show up in search results at all!
How To Optimize A Website For The Top Google Spot
Here are the 10 steps to follow in order to optimize your website for Google search:
1. Make Your Website Secure and Accessible
Visit your website in a browser and look at the letters that come before your domain name.
Does your URL start with “http” or “https“? If you have the “s” it means your website is more secure, and will be favoured by Google over less-secure sites.
“Accessibility” means users with disabilities (usually referring to visual impairment) can use your website without any trouble. Text is large enough and has good contrast, images have descriptive alt tags, and navigation menus are easy to use.
2. Optimize Page Speed (including mobile speed!) To Get To The Top Of Google
This one’s pretty straight-forward. If your website is slow to load, people will get frustrated and leave, especially on phones. Images need to be optimized (downsized) for websites so they don’t slow down page load times.
One of the biggest hurdles to increasing page speed is having images on your website that are too big. Large images take a long time to load, and become a setback on your quest for that top Google spot.
Adobe Photoshop’s “Save for Web and Devices” feature is the most powerful and effective way to downsize images for use on your website. However, optimizing images in Photoshop requires an expert touch. It also takes a great deal of time.
If your website is based in WordPress, try out the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin. It automatically downsizes your images during upload, and can go back and resize old images too.
Also make sure you’re using the latest and greatest image formats! Each format has its own best use case, but Google does provide general suggestions to follow:
Image formats like JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP often provide better compression than PNG or JPEG, which means faster downloads and less data consumption.Google Tools For Web Developers
3. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly For That Top Google Spot
Speaking of phones, we’ve all visited websites that required “pinching and zooming” in order to navigate on a phone. Nobody likes doing this, and so Google devalues websites that aren’t mobile-friendly in search results.
These days, most website builders get you pretty close to perfect mobile-friendliness. Depending on how much customization you do, it may require some additional code to make your website look perfect on phones.
This is where Media Queries come in. Media Queries allow you to specify different CSS (how your website is styled) for varying screen widths or “breakpoints”.
Don’t worry about learning how to perform media queries yourself – but it’s handy to know they exist when working with a web designer. Just know you can assign different styling to how your website looks at different screen widths.
A common use for media queries would be to make your heading text a little smaller for phones.
Be sure your images are responsive. This means you can view them on all types of screens and the images resize nicely without being “cut off” visually.
Not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly? Google has a test for that: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
4. Become An Authority In Your Industry To Reach A Top Google Position
If your website hasn’t been around for very long, it’s important to establish “authority” for your industry by getting other important websites to link to it. Become a credible source of information in your industry by regularly publishing highly informative articles and projects to your website!
Another way to really drive up your authority online is to start publishing videos. YouTube is a perfect platform for this. With the phone in your pocket and a $30 tripod on Amazon, you’ll have all the gear you need to start producing “good enough” videos on YouTube.
But, Video is Scary!
More than any other media format, video can be intimidating to produce. Trust me, I’ve been publishing videos for almost a decade, and have over 400 videos online to date! Yet, I still get nervous before recording a new one.
But the exposure is worth it. My videos are far from perfect (most are average at best) and yet they’ve been viewed over 3 million times in total. I have thousands of subscribers, and higher engagement than any other media format I’ve explored.
My approach to video is simple. I publish a video if I think it’s going to be helpful to someone else. Chances are if it’s helpful to one person, it’s actually helpful to thousands of people.
It Doesn’t Need to be Perfect, It Just Needs To BE
I often get hung up trying to make my video “perfect”. But it’s better to produce several imperfect videos than it is to invest a lot of time in trying to make one perfect video. This is because there’s a natural learning curve to creating videos, and your videos will improve the more you publish them.
Quantity leads to quality.
The content of the video matters more than the production quality.
As long as you focus on helping people and your videos will do well.
Also consider that YouTube videos themselves get ranked in Google search! So if one of your videos makes its way to the top spot in video search results, that will be a great source of traffic for your website. Just make sure to link to your site in the video description to capitalize on that potential traffic source!
5. Optimize Your Website Text For A Top Google Spot
The text on your website matters because Google crawls it to figure out what your website is about. Aim to strike a balance between text that is engaging for people to read, while also containing the search phrase you want to be at the top of Google for.
When deciding what keywords to pursue, limit yourself to a few. Going with too many terms dilutes the potency of any one of them. Instead, try to figure out exactly what your prospects are searching for and then reverse-engineer your text to include the most important search term.
Tip: Do your own keyword research by entering your industry’s keywords into AnswerThePublic.com and seeing what people are searching for! Then write content on your website and blog to match those search phrases.
6. Optimize Your Code
Of course, you’ve likely heard of HTML as it forms the majority of the code websites are built with.
Google crawls the code of your website and can tell what version of HTML you’re using. There have been several versions of HTML in use over the years. Today, you want your website to be updated to the most recent release of HTML, which is HTML5.
You can tell what kind of HTML your website is built on by right-clicking your website and selecting “view page source”. This will show the website code. At the very top, there will be a “doctype” tag where the type of HTML is declared.
You know your website is built in HTML5 if the very first line of your website looks like this:
If you see that, you’re golden! If you see a longer doctype tag with lots of other words, there’s a good chance your HTML is an older version and needs an update.
By including descriptive <alt> tags on all of your website images, you help Google understand what the images are. This helps your rank, and it helps users with visual impairments interact with your website (making it more accessible).
You can also control what text appears with your Google listing in search results with the <title> and <description> tags. Here’s how Butter Web Design shows up in Google search results:
The <title> tag on your website is what actually gets listed in Google search as the first line of text. So it’s essential to have optimized title tags, as well as headings, meta descriptions, and other bits of code that go into your website.
The <description> tag is what shows up underneath your website title, and gives users a quick summary of what your website is about. Make sure to include the search term you want to rank at the top of Google for in your website title and description tags!
Don’t worry about the <keywords> tag, Google doesn’t use it anymore to determine website rankings.
7. Improve Your Website’s User Experience
When people spend more time on your website, that’s a good thing. When they arrive and then leave immediately, that’s bad. This is called a “bounce rate”. Google tracks these metrics and rewards sites that provide users with a good experience.
Simply put, improvements to user experience can be made by solving things that frustrate your visitors. Have you ever visited a website and found it frustrating? Why was that exactly?
While it’s often difficult to view our own websites from the lens of a total stranger, that’s the best way to see the flaws that make for a bad user experience. From there, it’s possible to address the issues and improve how people feel when they’re on your website.
Google Analytics will give you a clear idea of how your website is performing. Look at your bounce rate and how much time people are spending on each of your pages.
Often, improving user experience is intuitive once you’ve identified where the problem is using analytics software. By knowing that a page has a high bounce rate, you can perform tests yourself, or get a friend to visit the page. As them what they would change if they could, and use the input as a basis for experimenting with changes to your site.
You can even conduct A/B split tests using Google Optimize to test multiple variations of your web pages at the same time. Based on the statistics of each variation, you will be able to see which version your visitors prefer. Consequently, you will be able to choose the best one to boost your user experience!
8. Earn Those Links
Google likes it when you both link out to valuable information online, and when high-authority websites link back to your site.
The best way to get other websites to link to your site is simple, make your website worth linking to. Do this by publishing the very best information blog articles you can write, and people will naturally link to them.
Another strategy is to request to post your blog articles as guest posts on other websites in the same industry, linking back to your website each time.
9. Fill Out Your Business Information
One of the most important things you can do for your business is to complete a Google My Business profile. By having a verified business listing, Yelp listing, and Facebook Business listing, your website becomes more credible. Thus, Google will rank you more favourably!
Hint: the more positive reviews you have on your various listings, the better. Get our Early Wins Checklist for more information on how to drive traffic to your business for free!
10. Engage Your Audience
The more people share your content online, the more Google takes notice and rewards you with a higher position.
Make it easy for people to share your content by writing great content. These days, writing great blog articles has become one of the best ways to continually drive traffic to your website.
By publishing excellent information, you’re giving your audience something to enjoy and to share with their friends. Here’s how to check to see if your blog articles are going to resonate with your audience: if someone sent it to you, would you read it? Does the headline grab your attention and make you want to read more? As you read, are you sucked deeper and deeper into the article until you just have to finish it?
These are the types of questions to ask yourself while writing blog articles. Of course, mention your company and what you can offer your readers. But avoid the mistake of talking too much about your business. You are interested in your business, but your prospects aren’t. They’re interested in their problems which your business solves! Write about those problems, and how to solve them!
Content Marketing is the Best Way to Get the Top Google Spot
Writing and publishing blog articles is a big undertaking, but it pays off by sending a steady stream of free traffic to your website forever. For this reason, investing in a content marketing permanently boosts your organic traffic (traffic that comes to your website without clicking paid ads).
Content marketing is one of the most powerful methods of generating high quality leads over the long term. Not only does it increase your website’s likelihood of ranking at the top of Google, but the individual articles themselves can rank in search results!
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